The region described as West Asia extends from India to Egypt. It is where civilisation, and therefore of garden design, first developed. Ancient West Asia influenced all the surrounding areas, including Europe and China. Its influence on North Africa (and Southern Spain) lasted until modern times, for both geographical and religious reasons. Broadly speaking the climate of West Asia is hot-arid. This is shown by the land cover base used for the below map of West Asian garden regions and gardens. [See Blog post on Asian Garden History and Book on Asian garden history]
Circa 600 CE, the characteristic dwelling type throughout West Asia was a courtyard house formed in mud brick. Small outdoor courts were used for living and working. Larger enclosures could also contain plants and animals. Arabian towns, like Mecca and Medina, were of this type. When taking control of the Middle East, the Arabs encountered the architecture and gardens of the Roman and Persian empires. After Contstantinople fell to the Turks in 1453 AD the city’s Roman-style gardens were built upon, though enough survives to the show their Roman form. Though no plans or examples survive, Constantinople also had churches with cloisters. There are in fact only two extant plans of cloisters. The most famous, known as the St Gall plan, was drawn by a monk who had visited Constantinople. It shows a square plan with crossing paths, not unlike the plans of Mughal tomb gardens built 1,000 years later. Since Islamic architects learned the use mortar to build arches from the Romans it is quite possible that the cloister-form was acquired, indirectly, from the same source.